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Sir Charles Hubert Parry (1848–1918)

Hubert Parry
Admired by Elgar, Parry was also a figurehead for subsequent generations of English composers including Holst, Howells and Finzi. He strongly believed in the importance of folk music and of amateur music making, and though his two sets of Characteristic Popular Tunes of the British Isles for easy piano duet predate the folk-song revival, they demonstrate his belief in a democratic musical ideal that would be fully realised in the work of his pupil Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Featured as soundtrack to The Prince and the Composer, HRH The Prince of Wales’s passionate exploration of the achievement of Hubert Parry (1848–1918) premiered on BBC4, the Shulbrede Tunes for piano are ten perfect examples of his romantic and picturesque style. Less well known yet no less appealing is the Piano Sonata of 1878. Originally published in the distinguished Augener edition, it is a fresh and youthful four-movement work in A major that is waiting to be discovered by pianists.

Indeed, as the documentary revealed, there is much more to the composer and his music than is conveyed in the popular image of the creator of the coronation anthem I was glad, the ode Blest Pair of Sirens and Jerusalem. Alongside those imperishable settings of words taken from the Book of Common Prayer, Milton and Blake there are smaller choral items such as the Evening Service in D, and a wealth of delightful songs, including the bibulous Three Odes of Anacreon for baritone and piano.

In addition, around half of the entire collection of his twelve volumes of English Lyrics is to be found among the 40 songs included in Hubert Parry Songs, volume 49 of the celebrated Musica Britannica series. His three violin sonatas (the first only recently discovered and the second a notable single-movement Fantasie) are available in the complete Sonatas for Violin and Pianoforte, MB80, edited by the leading Parry scholar Jeremy Dibble. The sonatas are also available separately, and there is a selection of music from MB49 in the Seven Songs for high voice and piano, B525.

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